Last week I attended my niece’s birthday party and as usual, once the cake has been cut and the dinner has started, my cousins and myself made our way to the outside of the house, set up a table on the porch, rounded several chairs and started to chit chat over a large bottle of liquor and wine. As usual, such chit chat continued until wee hours in the morning.
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One of my cousins asked about my younger brother who been missing out on many of the family functions ever since he got married. I could not answer my cousin on the whereabouts of my brother – after all, my brother is not a small kid anymore and he has his own transport and he knows how to come to this function.
Hearing this, my cousin took a gulp of strong liquor and remarked that a long time ago when the whole family – mine and his and other cousins – only had one car belonging to one of my uncle (that was before my Dad got his car), everyone was present and was accounted for at family functions – weddings, birthday party, new year celebrations, “no reason” gatherings, etc.
My uncle has a second hand Mitsubishi Lancer EX which is not mistaken, bought from a friend. This was the family car for years before he bought a more modern and trendy Proton Iswara sedan from his old company. It was a miracle on how we managed to use that one car to do several trips or used alternative mode of transport – bus and motorcycles to reach our destinations.
But now, almost every one of my cousins has a car and most households have 2 – 3 cars but when it comes to weddings, birthday party, new year celebrations, etc, you can hardly see some of these people. No longer can they use the excuse that they don’t have transport and they also know that family gatherings usually take precedent over any other functions, especially notices have been sent many weeks earlier.
That statement from my cousin made a lot of sense and also made me realise how things have changed.
Major functions are usually held at my grandma’s house, so getting there was not difficult. But sometimes gatherings also held at my uncle’s house – a couple of kilometres away from my grandma’s house. Getting there was not so easy – there was no public transport. So, what will happen is that announcements would be made that the car is coming over to pick the people up at a particular time.
Everyone would dress up and my uncle is given the task of queuing the people for the car – 1st round would be the seniors and key people – my grandma and elder uncle often leave on the 1st trip. Next round, some of the aunties and final round, the kids and whoever been left behind.
Once the function finishes – then there is another round of queuing but things usually are better on the return trip. Some of the relatives who have a car of their own will help out on the transport. Of course, such arrangements only apply for the short distant function.
Making trips in the car was one way for me and my cousins could make use of our car driving license. You see, our parents made sure that we pass the car driving test before the green light was given for us to take the test for a motorcycle license. They were very strict about this although all we want is just a license to ride motorcycles.
So, here we have a car license, collecting dust for many months, so having family functions was something we look out for, as we would find our uncle tossing the car key to us and asking us to look after the task of fetching family members whilst he and rest of the uncles get busy with their drinks and chit chat. He knows we have been waiting for the chance to drive the car.
Of course, for those who are unlucky to get the car key, we lookout for the next best option – our uncles’ motorbike keys and there are usually 3 – 4 bikes lying around during family functions.